Torrens Knight

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Torrens Knight (born 4 August 1969) is a Northern Ireland loyalist, who belonged to the North Antrim and Londonderry Brigade of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).[1] In 1993 he took part in the Greysteel massacre (in which eight civilians were shot dead) and the Castlerock killings (in which three civilians and a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) member were killed). After being convicted—along with three others—for the killings, he served seven years in the Maze Prison before his release in 2000 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

Knight was part of a four man UDA group sent to conduct an attack in revenge for the Shankill Road bombing. Their target was the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel, where he, Stephen Irwin, Jeffrey Deeney and Brian McNeill shot eight dead (six Catholics and two Protestants). After the leading gunman, Irwin shouted "Trick or treat", he and Deeney raked the bar with gunfire, while Knight, armed with a shotgun, stood at the door. 19 other people were injured. McNeil was the driver of one of the cars used after the shootings. The attack was claimed by the "Ulster Freedom Fighters", a covername used by the UDA.[2]

Knight was given eight life sentences for his part in the killings and a further four more for the killing of an IRA member and three Catholic civilians in Castlerock, County Londonderry. He served seven years in the Maze Prison before paramilitary prisoners were granted a general release under the Good Friday Agreement in 2000.[3][4][5]

Allegations of being an informant[edit]

According to David McKittrick, there had been rumours that Knight had been a police informer.[4] Suspicions have been voiced by John Dallat, a member of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).[4] Dallat, who said he was in touch with police about Knight before the attacks in Greysteel and Castlerock, claimed they might have been prevented since it was known Knight was an extremist.[4]

In 2000 Knight attracted the attention of staff at a bank where he was withdrawing large amounts of money from an account into which £50,000 a year was being paid.[4] The bank's concern was that Knight was involved in money laundering, but, when police were contacted, an assurance was given that everything was in order.[4] The money was said to be from a Scottish engineering firm, but the account was quickly closed down.[4][6]

The allegations of being an informer was investigated by the Police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan who eventually released her findings which showed no evidence of money being paid to Knight or that he was an informer.[citation needed]

Alleged membership of Apprentice Boys[edit]

In 2008 Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard claimed that Knight was a member of the Kilrea branch of the Apprentice Boys. It was claimed that Knight took part in a parade in Kilrea and laid a wreath at the cenotaph in the village. The Kilrea branch of the Apprentice Boys denied this as did Knight himself. A spokesman stated that Knight wasn't a member and that they will demand an apology and explanation from Sinn Féin.[7][8]

Knight also stated that John Dallat and Billy Leonard are taking part in a 'hate campaign' against him and challenged the nationalist politicians 'to get off his back'[9]

2009 conviction[edit]

In October 2009 Knight was found guilty of assaulting two sisters in a bar in Coleraine.[3] As a result his early release licence was suspended and he was returned to jail.[10]

He was later sentenced to four months jail for the assault.[11] The judge said "The injuries sustained were consistent with a vicious attack on the two women and of particular concern in this case is that you kicked Ms Nicholl while she was on the ground, prone and unable to defend herself".[11] He also said "People who do that can expect no mercy or sympathy from these courts. You acted as a bully when you approached these sisters. You lost control and lashed out".[11]

After Knight was returned to prison in 2009 it was revealed that Trevor Collins, a member of Jim Allister's Traditional Unionist Voice political party, was collecting signatures campaigning for his release from prison. The TUV said it would not be taking action against the member to discipline Trevor Collins from Garvagh who instigated the petition.[12]

Knight was released on 6 August 2010.[13]

References[edit]